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November 18, 2010
New Zealand coach Mark Greatbatch has praised his team's fighting spirit and has said the patience shown by the New Zealand players has been one of the key factors in their performance in India so far. New Zealand, ranked the No. 8 Test side in the world, were under pressure coming into the India tour following their 4-0 ODI series in loss in Bangladesh, but they managed to draw the first two Tests, against the No. 1 side to defy expectations.
"It has been a good war of attrition. The guys have been working hard for the two Tests - 10 days of cricket," Greatbatch told the Indian Express. "And that scenario we need to improve on.
"We have fought hard. We were behind in this game [in Hyderabad] but we caught up pretty well. We are fighting every ball, every over, every hour and every session. We are enjoying the challenge that India is throwing at us."
New Zealand were expected to struggle to take 20 wickets, given the inexperience in their fast bowling attack. But led by captain Daniel Vettori - the leading wicket-taker in the series - the New Zealand bowlers have bowled with discipline, backed by sharp fielding to surprise the Indian batsmen. "There are different plans to what you bowl in say, the UK or New Zealand," Greatbatch said. "The areas to bowl in India are straight. Aiming at the off and middle stump, you bring the lbw and clean-bowled into play. And in case the ball holds the line, there's a high possibility of an edge. If you can control the scoreboard it is a big plus. That way you can bowl a number of dot balls."
One of the positives to emerge from the second Test for New Zealand was the form of Brendon McCullum, promoted to open the innings. McCullum made a match-saving double-century, his highest Test score. "You've got to be patient. If you show patience you get good results. McCullum batted for nine hours and got good results."
In Ahmedabad, New Zealand were hampered by the absence of fast bowler Hamish Bennett, who injured his groin on the first day and bowled only 15 overs. Jesse Ryder, who bowled 17 overs in the first innings in Ahmedabad, picking up one wicket, didn't bowl in the second innings because of a calf injury. Greatbatch, though, said such problems were unavoidable.
"Everyone has to think about their responsibility and not be distracted by such things. You need to think about the things that you can control. It could be about the next ball or next over you are facing. It is all about focussing on the hour and keeping a strong mind."
The third and final Test begins in Nagpur on Saturday. New Zealand are yet to win a Test series in India and, despite their strong performance so far, Greatbatch was cautious in looking ahead. "This has been a see-saw series. We have dominated play at the same time we have fought back after India have dominated. We will relax the mind and body for the next day and half. We need to go to Nagpur and look at what we face there."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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